MConn ’13 Dispatch: Think Like A Millennial

A few weeks ago I attended the MCON conference in Indy, and found out something that surprised me: When it comes to making a nonprofit successful, Millennials could make all the difference. No more “Me Generation.” No more “kids these days.” Gen Y, the business world has finally figured it out. You are important.

Those born after 1980 are a key demographic for nonprofits and other businesses. But how does a company successfully communicate its message to Millennials? 

Why should I care about connecting with Millennials?

Here is the thing, fashion creatives. Many brands are targeting and trying to figure out how to tap into the passion, connectivity, and disposable income of the age group. Those grouped in the Millennial generation are characterized as:

  • Connected through technology
  • Influential in their networks
  • Looking to have an impact

Like any business move, getting Millenials excited your brand takes thought. Businesses can’t just operate under the mindset of, “If we build it they will come.” Industry professionals have to be in the position that they are actively making the right business decisions.  Being attractive to Millennials can be a huge win for your business and for your organization.

Millennials have proved that they are fantastic at sharing your story, solidifying your brand message, and amplifying your content. This alone is a goldmine for a brand that doesn’t have the budget to pay for a traditional marketing campaign.

It is not you. It is me.

This is probably very true.

The first concept that was repeated regularly at the conference is the importance of building a RELATIONSHIP with Millennials. This, like all relationships, is going to be a struggle and take a lot of work and energy. Don’t even think about faking your love for the Millennials. They can smell fake. The biggest way to beat a lot of the larger business at getting the coveted age group on your side is to be authentic and transparent in the way you handle your business. One you have their trust, they are brand loyal.

Building a relationship with Millennials means you better be active and diverse in your use of technology in your brand. The Millennial Impact Research Report found that 83% of Millennials have smartphones. Is your website, email, and social media mobile friendly. Research also found that “More than 60% of respondents liked it most when nonprofits shared stories about successful projects or the people they help.”

If you are not a non-profit, then does your brand have an impact beyond just selling a product or service? How does your website look? Do you make it easy for people to connect through social media on your site? When Millennials visit a site, “51% connect via social media, 46% donated to the cause, 46% read a blog post,” stated the report.

Having a usable mobile presence, a compelling story, and a clear and focused website is the foundation for a relationship with the Millennial generation. Having a good relationship comes in handy when launching that campaign to raise funds for your non-profit or to kickoff your Kickstarter.

“83% of Millennial respondents made a financial gift to an organization in 2012,” mentions the report, with most giving between $1 and $50. Other estimates put it around 75%. Either way– Millennials are hardly the apathetic crowd they’re sometimes made out to be. But when asking for backers for a campaign or donation, you better have built a relationship through inspiration, monthly giving, transparency, and peer-to-peer engagement.

As an entrepreneur, why do I care about any of this?

I posed the question above to Alia McKee from Sea Change, Jessica Mason from YouTube. Professionals of any age can take a few cues from Millennials. Want to advance your career? Think like it’s 2013, not 1993.

Hey photographers, videographers, and graphic designers! Alia McKee can get us a job. How? The non-profit world might not be the first thing creatives think of when trying to sell their services. However, with the push towards marketing non-profits to Millennials, they are transitioning into a more visual approach. No, you might not be shooting the fashion campaign you were hoping to for, but you are building your experience and getting paid. Think outside of the box on how you are going to work in Indianapolis. There are some great non-profits around the city.

Jessica Mason manages the Youtube for Good team. I talked to her about how YouTube and video can be a huge and often inexpensive opportunity to get your message and brand out there. And gone are the days of sinking ample time and funds into professionally-produced video marketing campaigns.

According to Mason, YouTube is more about getting a significant quantity of video out regularly and not necessarily about producing super high quality. [Editor’s note: Your content should always be worth consuming– well-thought out, well-composed, and attention-grabbing. It just doesn’t need to be slick.]

Mason couldn’t even count the number of videos she’s watched in her career at YouTube, but she can absolutely remember the good ones. An iPhone video with a good message can change the world. YouTube is a story telling mechanism; viewers are not just going to YouTube for short content. How are you telling your story?

You know, I could talk about Digital Media Communication and the Millennial engagement a lot longer. Feel free to stop by #BinderyIndy on Thursdays and we can chat.

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